ALBANY, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) — New York State has a new chief judge. Rowan Wilson was confirmed Tuesday, April 18 by the state Senate in a floor vote.
Wilson was confirmed in a 40-19 vote. He is now the top judge in the state of New York, making him the first Black judge to hold the position.
Democrats voiced their support for him during the vote.
“At a time when federal courts are making rash and radical departures from long standing precedent and literally ripping away our rights, New Yorkers can be assured that with Judge Wilson at the helm, our judiciary will have their best interests at heart. The best interests of New Yorkers,” Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal said.
Republicans feel differently, however, due to a controversial case known as People v. Regan in which Wilson overturned the prison sentence of a convicted rapist after there were several delays in the trial. Wilson said it violated the defendant’s right to a speedy trial.
“He went outside the bounds of law, and it will have a stunning effect on future rape cases coming forward,” Sen. Patricia Canzoneri- Fitzpatrick said.
Ultimately, his nomination was confirmed. A ceremony is expected to take place at a later date.
Previous Chief Judge Janet Difiore resigned in the summer of 2022. Since then, the nomination process has been controversial. Gov. Kathy Hochul first nominated Justice Hector LaSalle, which lead to conflict between the governor and her own party in New York’s legislature.
A hearing was also held on Tuesday for the consideration of Caitlin Halligan for Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals. If officially nominated and confirmed, she’d be filling Judge Wilson’s vacancy. Lawmakers from both sides commented on her impressive resume and asked her questions regarding past cases involving guns and the environment.
A vote did not take place, however, as Gov. Hochul has yet to officially nominate Halligan to the position. A vote could happen as soon as Wednesday, April 19.